[March 10, 2006]

Publish and be damned if you don't sell more

(The Birmingham Post Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)Ever since the High Court case began over claims that the central theme of Dan Brown's blockbuster, The Da Vinci Code, was copied from The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail, both books have been flying off the shelves.


And both are published by Random House.

American Dan Brown's book is the publishing phenomenon of the age, this week notching up a total of 4,000,000 copies sold in the UK with 40 million sales worldwide.

But interest has been reawakened in the non-fiction work which was itself a best seller when it was published in 1982.

Giles Elliott of Bookseller Magazine said The Holy Blood sales - both over the internet and in bookshops - had increased by 745 per cent in the UK alone since the case began last week.

He said that although dwarfed by the sales of The Da Vinci Code, this still meant "an enormous jump" from around 350 copies a week to more than 3,000.

"The trial means both books are getting worldwide attention and sales increases in the UK have been dramatic."

Mr Elliott said the case in London was being covered by journalists from America, Japan and Europe and the massive increase in sales was likely to be repeated throughout the world.

Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh are suing Random House, claiming The Da Vinci Code was an infringement of their copyright.

Publishing houses and authors are notoriously reticent about their financial deals, but writers usually earn around 10 per cent of the cover price of their books, according to Mr Elliott. Both men can expect the sales boom to continue during the life of the trial which is expected to last another week.

But whoever loses may be faced with the total legal costs which legal experts are estimating could greatly exceed pounds 1 million.

The hundreds of hours of painstaking examination of the books to pinpoint similarities and differences by the opposing legal teams may even have pushed the final costs towards pounds 2 million, said the experts.

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